Cook with me! A Traditional Foods Retreat in Lucca, Italy

Late this spring, before our little market opens,  we’ll pack up our backpacks, leave our little valley for the farms, fields and foods of Italy, England, France and Iceland. It’s a long trip, and one we’ve awaited for a very long time.  It’s been years since we’ve been out of the country – our last visit to Europe landed us in Amsterdam, and that was before our little boy (who’s not so little any more) was born.

When late May arrives, we’ll find ourselves in Lucca – a town in the Tuscany region of Italy – just outside of Pisa, and not too far from Florence.  It’s a region renowned for its history, culture, rolling hills and farm life.  And you’re invited.

That is,  I’ll be teaching a week-long culinary getaway in Lucca during the last week of May at the invitation of Jovial Foods.  Its founder, Carla, is committed to reviving traditional, heirloom foods and flavors like einkorn (which I use frequently in my cooking – you can find it here).  And in addition to cooking together, you’ll spend time with my family and other guests as we tour local farms, the farmers market and the rolling hills that surround the 18th century Tuscan villa where we’ll stay.

It is a very special trip.

Visiting Lucca: Farms, Markets, Foods and Culture

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Lucca sits nestled in the undulating Tuscan hills, just a stone’s throw from Pisa.  And I’m told that, in spring, it’s exceptional. So while we’ll stay in an 18th Century Villa with an expansive kitchen that’s fully stocked with fresh local foods and good Italian wines, there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone to enjoy the sites of the local area.  Indeed, when I tell people we’re headed to Lucca for a culinary getaway, they look at me with wistful eyes and express that Lucca itself was the highlight of their trip – they talk abut the streets, the hills, the quiet romance.  Everyone wants to go back, and I don’t want to miss it at all.

The first night of the getaway, everyone will settle in together for a traditional meal prepared by a local chef – a meal that features locally and regionally grown foods and typical Lucchese farm-fresh cooking.  It’ll give us all time to relax, and to get to know one another. We’ll also visit local farms on the trips – where the einkorn is grown and produced, followed by more local foods and more good wine.  And there’s time together at the local markets, and the workshops, of course.

But there’s plenty of free, unscheduled time to visit Florence, or Pisa or to just sit and relax at the solar-heated pool – something my little boy is looking forward to.  You can check out the rooms at the villa and schedule here.

The Workshops

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I’ll teach a series of traditional foods workshops on seasonal vegetables, properly prepared grains and nose-to-tail eating.  You’ll help me prepare lunch, and we’ll all sit down to eat together before venturing off on our own little adventures.  And, best of all, we’ll focus on fresh local foods – and you’ll have plenty of recipes to take home with you.  And I’ll be there to answer any questions you might have.   (Check out the full schedule.)

  • Exploring Seasonal Vegetables: I’ll show you how to select and prepare seasonal produce, from your garden or from the market.  We’ll focus on simple preparations, classic cooking, and traditional fermentation techniques.  Not only will we use local fresh foods in our cooking, but you’ll be equipped to take those same techniques I teach and apply them to your cooking when you return home.
  • Soaked, Soured and Sprouted: I’ll show you how to traditionally prepare grains to maximize nutrients through soaking, souring and sprouting.  You’ll learn the difference betweens different types of flours, and their uses.  We’ll also focus on the difference between ancient and modern grain varietals, focusing on traditional (but easy) n0-knead artisanal bread  baking.  And after the class we’ll settle in for a simple lunch of homemade wood-fired pizza, fresh seasonal vegetables and charcuterie.
  • The Whole Animal: Lastly, I’ll show you how to use the whole animal in classic nose-to-tail style with emphasis placed on nutrient-dense animal foods like homemade liver pates and terrines, bone broths and more. You’ll learn simple techniques to make these wholesome foods easily in your kitchen, and we’ll enjoy a simple lunch afterwards.

The Experience

Of course, the getaway isn’t all about cooking; rather, it’s about coming together – exploring new friendships – and finding rest and respite in one of the most beautiful and culturally rich regions in the world.  And, together, we can look at it through the lens of real food – learning from one another as we explore a region steeped in history, tradition and care for the foods that nourish our body’s best.  Just look at the experiences of the people who attended a similar getaway last year.

And, yes, the food will be spectacular.

How to Book

My family is looking forward to this getaway, and I’m really looking forward to visiting with readers who’ve come to know real food through Nourished Kitchen.  I hope you’ll join me, and if you’re interested you can learn more about the trip here and book online.

Jovial Foods Lucca

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What people are saying

  1. Clair says

    Was in Lucca last year and it is beautiful. Wish so much I could go to this, but have a conflict I cannot move. Hope there is another one soon.

    • Jenny says

      This getaway is hosted by Jovial Foods – I’m humbly accepting their invitation to go and cook. So any recordings will be done by Jovial, and published as they see fit. I’m not certain if that’s currently planned.

  2. says

    That sounds amazing! I used to live near Pisa when my husband was stationed in Livorno with the US Air Force. That was 15 years ago now. My husband and I talk about our amazing time in Italy all the time. Lucca is a BEAUTIFUL city, and Tuscany is just breathtaking at that time of year. I wish I could join you; have a wonderful time!

  3. says

    OMG! I’m so excited! I live in Italy, at about a 4 hour drive from Lucca so I absolutely cannot miss this opportunity! I’ve been following your blog for a few years, did the real food course last year and have signed up for the meal plans this year (am still using my old blog email and other info – Moomser), so this is just the perfect opportunity to meet you, solve some of my fermentation and sprouting problems, and see a beautiful place… Hope I can get the Husband on board! Yipee!

  4. Denise says

    Jenny,
    i see pricing for rooms, so this is one cost and then additional cost of flight, any other costs that we need to know about besides xtra spending money?
    looks like an amazing trip
    denise

    • Jenny says

      Hi Denise –
      The cost of the accommodations includes the workshops, breakfast, lunch on the workshop days, and 2 dinners. I think that the kitchen will be stocked for some amount of self-catering, but you’ll need spending money, money for restaurants/dining and of course lodging is included.

  5. Deborah says

    Jenny, jovial is a staple in our home! As is real good! Any chance you might need someone on the trip fluent in Italian? :). I am from Firenze, but currently live in Maine.

    • Jenny says

      Hi Deborah!

      I think it’ll be a lovely trip. Jovial is SUCH a good company. I’m really eager to check out their farms. I don’t think we need any extra help for the trip – I think they have everything staffed/organized.

  6. Darviny says

    What is the price
    What is included
    Can I bring my family ? One Husband
    One Daughter
    How much extra is it to bring them to stay there
    He would watch daughter while took workshop

    • Jenny says

      Darviny –

      This getaway is organized by Jovial Foods – so I’d recommend that you take a look at their site for the details on price, inclusions and accommodations. I’d hate to be mistaken about something. This is the site: http://jovialculinarygetaways.com.

      To my understanding, the price varies on what type (and size) of a room you get – the rooms that accomodate more people cost more, but it’s not organized per person. It includes the workshops, breakfast, lunch after the workshops, a chef-prepared dinner the night of your arrival, a dinner prepared by me the night before your departure, and a stocked kitchen for self-catering.

      I believe that children were welcome at the getaways they hosted last year, so I imagine they’re still welcome this year. My little boy will be in and out of the kitchen/villa/grounds, and I’m sure he’d love to have someone to play with.

      • Lori says

        Jenny,

        My sticking point was my daughter. So it is ok to bring a child? She is 4yrs old…. We are in Germany currently and I am so excited about this prospect!

        Thanks

        • Lauren says

          I have a four year old as well (a son) – and he is the sticking point too. Should we check with the host as to if small children are welcome?

        • Jenny says

          I will be bringing my child, and it’s my understanding that last year the cook that did the demo also brought her child as well (who was quite young). I also believe at least one other guest will be bringing her 5 year old. So I would bring them, but the workshops themselves (there’s only 3) would likely be quite dull for a child, so I imagine you want to also bring a spouse or other caregiver who can better help.

  7. rpl says

    A dream for me would be to go. Thinking I wouldn’t get all I could from this trip being grain-free by necessity. Enjoy this magical trip!

  8. Roxana says

    Hi Jenny,
    I’m so excited to be joining you… from France !
    There were only double rooms left so I’ll have a large room all to myself :) Everything about the trip seems amazing and I’m so looking forward to meeting like-minded people.

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